- An efficient, well-balanced, very quiet electric cross bike with the Yamaha PW mid-drive motor and downtube battery, available in three sizes with angled top tube fore fit and stand-over comfort
- Sporty but thoughtful color scheme, the fork and downtube are black which hide the motor and battery pack, cables are internally routed, the hubs, spokes, and rims are also black
- Large easy-to-read display panel is removable, both wheels offer quick release, there's a Micro-USB charging port built into the control pad near the left grip, reliable 10-speed Shimano Deore drivetrain
- No slap guard on the right chain stay, but there is a plastic chain guide to reduce drops and keep your pants from getting dirty, large heavy battery charger, excellent hydraulic disc brakes, cheap grips and pedals but the kickstand is great
Easy Motion has been selling versions of the Cross platform in the USA since 2013, it was one of the first electric bikes I ever reviewed when launching EBR! and it has held up well. The Cross is a very popular product because it supports utilitarian accessories like fenders, a rear rack, and bottle cage (or folding lock) for urban commuting use but comes with a suspension fork and hybrid tires for gravel and light trail use as well. The fork can be locked out to improve efficiency and there’s a Micro-USB port built into the control pad near the left grip, so you could charge a smartphone, use a GPS device, or add a headlight. It’s the “everything ebike” that blends efficiency with comfort and strives for affordability. Priced at $2.8k, the Rebel Cross Lite is not the most affordable product on the market, but it brings a lot of value, reliability, dealer support (over 150 dealers in the USA and 50+ in Canada), and a five year warranty for the original owner when registered. The parent company of Easy Motion is called BH, and they have been around since 1909. Before we jump into the details of the Rebel Cross Lite PW, it’s worth mentioning that you can get the hub motor powered EVO Cross Pro for the same price, and that model comes with a twist throttle. If you’re someone who who appreciates perfect weight distribution for improved handling, super-quiet motor operation, and maximum efficiency for climbing and going long distances, the Rebel Cross is the way to go. It’s a Class 1 product with assisted top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), allowable on the most bike paths and trails compared to the Class 2 EVO Cross and Class 3 speed pedelecs.
Driving this e-bike is the compact, quiet, and reliable Yamaha PW mid-motor. All of the dealers that I’ve asked about this motor have said that it never comes back with warranty issues… And, that’s not surprising considering that Yamaha comes from the power sports industry and has been making internal combustion engines for decades. They make generators, motorcycles, snowmobiles, jet skis, and a whole host of other machines that get exposed to long term use in rigorous environments. The PW is their entry-level electric bike motor, but it still offers up to 70 Newton meters of torque. The power rating is 250 to ~500 watts, and the only drawback compared to higher specced PW SE and PW-X drive systems is that it offers a more limited 100 RPM cadence support. In short, you cannot pedal faster than 100 RPM and expect much motor assistance, it just doesn’t spin that quickly. For an urban cross bike like the Rebel Cross Lite, that’s not much of an issue. There’s a plastic shell built along the base of the bottom bracket to protect the motor from rock and log strikes if you do go off road. And, the motor and battery blend into the seat tube and downtube nicely, the ground clearance is pretty good and everything feels solid and secure. I like how most of the shifter, brake, and power cables are internally routed through the frame of this bike. With ten gears to explore and a traditionally sized chainring up front, the bike is comfortable to ride on flats, descents, and steeper hills. You can pedal with the motor turned off, and it feels very efficient because there’s no drag from reduction gearing or magnets, but there isn’t a shift sensor here. If you don’t ease back a bit before changing gears, the motor could still be active and stress the chain, sprockets, and derailleur. The Yamaha PW motor takes a moment to spin down, but is otherwise very fluid and natural. They advertise a “zero cadence” start feature which aims to reduce knee and hip pressure down, you don’t have to push very hard or for very long before the motor kicks in.
Powering the bike, its large backlit display panel, and the Micro-USB port below the control pad, is a below-average capacity battery pack. You get 36 volts, 11 amp hours, and a total of 396 watt hours of capacity here, as compared with the ~600 watt hour battery pack on the EVO Cross Pro. The Yamaha pack is lightweight, durable, and put to good use by the efficient PW motor, so the trade-off in size isn’t as material as you might expect, especially if you were to use the twist throttle on the EVO Cross Pro frequently. By shifting gears, both your pedaling and the motors power output are optimized for climbing or reaching and maintaining higher speeds. I’s like a manual transmission car in this sense, and it works very well… but you literally have to change gears to reach 20 mph as the lower 100 RPM cadence will fade out around 11 mph in the first few gears. The battery pack can be charged on or off of the bike frame, but the plug port is dangerously close to the left crank arm. If you’re charging the pack on the bike and accidentally kick the pedals, you might damage the tiny plastic plug tip. This is one of my least favorite parts about all of the current generation Yamaha electric bikes. They use large, heavy, somewhat delicate chargers. You cannot unplug one end of the cord from the charger, so the wires end up being bent at extreme angles to minimize space in certain situations. The circular plastic plug tip has a twist connector at the end that seems like a bad idea when you consider some other chargers that are designed using magnets so they can pop off easily without pulling the bike over. I tend to remove the battery from the bike frame when charging because I park in a garage and outside at times, and extreme heat and cold can be hard on Lithium-ion packs. You don’t want to drop these batteries either, so it’s nice that Yamaha has designed a plastic loop at the top of the pack. It’s actually heavier than comparably specced batteries from Bosch and Shimano at 6.5 lbs, but it does have an LED power readout built into the top. All in all, the battery is good enough, and you don’t have to power it on before interacting with the display panel. I appreciate how easily it clicks into place on the downtube, and feel that the locking core design is tough and secure.
Operating the Emotion Rebel Cross Lite is a breeze, because the display panel is so large and the control pad is positioned so close to the left grip. Both items feel tough and are highly water resistant. I have seen and tested them on mountain bike models, and the biggest concern there had to do with impact in the event of a crash. The display panel is so large that it sticks up higher than most and could get scratched or broken off more easily in certain situations, even parking at bike racks. So, I find it very nice that you can actually remove the display for safe keeping! There’s even a little loop at the top corner of the display where you can attach a lanyard or keychain clip. In order to boot up the display, you first charge and mount the battery pack. Next, you press the power button on the control pad. From here, the grayscale LCD blinks to life and lists your current speed, battery capacity with 10 bars, and your current speed, along with some trip stats. You can cycle through trip stats to see average speed, odometer, and distance… which is very cool. Having a 10-bar battery infographic as well as a range estimator menu means that you should not have an issues gauging how far before the battery needs to be refilled. And again, with how easy this bike is to pedal unpowered and how efficient the motor is, I feel like it makes the bike more enjoyable and secure to ride. It inspires confidence and offers a more bike-like experience vs. a scooter. There are four levels of assist, starting with Eco+, and this mode boasts over 100 miles of range… but is so gentle that it barely offsets the added weight of the bike. I tend to use Eco and Standard the most, with occasional spurts of High to climb or ride faster against wind. Reaching over with your left thumb to press the up and down arrows, to adjust assist, is fairly comfortable and intuitive. The control pad is compact with rounded buttons that click a little bit but don’t beep or anything. You may have to look down at the display occasionally to determine which power mode has been selected, but again, it’s easy to do because of how large the display is and how prominently it is mounted at the center of the handlebar, above the stem.
I think it’s neat that Easy Motion has targeted a similar price point for most of their models, allowing you to choose the platform that best suits your needs. The Rebel Cross Lite PW is efficient, a great climber, and a more natural ride than the earlier NEO Cross and current EVO Cross products. I love that the bike has all of those provisions for fenders, a rear rack, and seat tube accessory, and feel that the pedal and kickstand choice was good. The hydraulic disc brakes are excellent, offering 180 mm front and 160 mm rear rotors with Shimano ICE Tech design (an alloy center for reduced weight and faster cooling). Brakes like this are easier to pull and have adjustable reach levers, which is perfect for gravel and light trail use. The tires on this bike are somewhat hybrid, but definitely leaning more towards efficiency and paved road or path use. The larger 28″ (700c) diameter provides a lower attack angle for spanning cracks and improved rolling momentum and stability once you’re up to speed. The suspension fork can be locked out to further improve efficiency, but I’d probably leave it open most of the time, to improve comfort. And, because Easy Motion built the frame with a tapered head tube, you could easily upgrade to lighter air suspension fork someday in the future. It would probably look pretty good too, as long as you got a black one, because that’s the current color (and a very common suspension fork color). Easy Motion is a bicycle company first, not just purely ebikes, and they use sealed cartridge headsets and bottom brackets to reduce rust, squeaking, and creaking. I had a blast hanging out with one of the company reps for the test ride, comparing models back to back, and want to thank Easy Motion for partnering with me on this review. Feel free to post your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear how the product is working for you, and you can also post in the Easy Motion Forums and share pictures and stories with fellow riders.
- Available in three frame sizes for improved fit, the top tube is sloped to lower standover height while still providing good stiffness and performance with a high-step design
- Frame-mount plastic chain guide will reduce drops and keep your pant leg clear and clean, you can actually swap the single chainring out for a double and use the chain guide mount for a front derailleur if you want more gears (though I personally would not, because it adds weight and complexity)
- The Yamaha PW motor is relatively lightweight, efficient, and very quiet, I appreciate how compact it is (almost completely hiding behind the chainring and integrated well into the downtube at the base of the battery
- The paint job is sporty and fun, but also thoughtfully designed to help the black motor and battery blend into the downtube, cables are internally routed to reduce clutter and add protection but the derailleur cable is red which is a fun accent touch
- I love that the Easy Motion Rebel Cross Lite PW comes with bottle cage bosses on the seat tube, rear rack mounting bosses on the seat stays, and fender bosses on the fork… you can really trick it out for commuting if you want
- Decent platform pedals with plenty of grip (tougher and larger than thin cages), though I might swap them for wider Wellgos like this, I also like the kickstand design and positioning because it stays clear of the left crank arm
- The battery charger is almost twice as fast as many competing products, so you can get back out and continue riding, and I like how the battery mounts to the frame from the side and has a plastic loop at the top for secure carrying
- Good balance of efficiency and comfort, the larger diameter 28″ wheels lower the attack angle but use narrower 1-5/8″ tires that reduce rolling resistance, the suspension fork is narrow and sleek but offers lockout to reduce bob, I might swap the rigid seat post for a 31.6 mm suspension post like this to further improve comfort without compromising efficiency
- Both wheels and the seat clamp are quick release, you can easily break the bike down for service or transport and I love that the battery and display panel are also easy to remove if you’re parking in a public place and don’t want people tampering with your stuff
- Great hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano, the front rotor is a larger 180 mm to improve stopping power and stay cool, both rotors use ICE Tech (which is an alloy center and steel rotor, to improve cooling), both levers offer adjustable reach for easier use if you have small or large hands
- Easy Motion offers one of the best industry warranties around, up to five years of coverage for the original owner if you register online, their vast network of shops around the world make test rides and post-purchase service easy
- Solid 10-speed cassette with reliable Shimano Deore derailleur that should hold up well over time, requiring less adjustment and service, the trigger shifters are also quick and very easy to reach and use
- Easy Motion also sells a hub motor version of the Cross platform, but the Rebel mid-drive is going to be more efficient and balanced, it’s ideal for climbing but doesn’t offer a twist throttle like the EVO
- Minor praise here, the wheel hubs, spokes, and rims are all black vs. having silver mixed in, it creates a nicer look and really ties in with the black paint accents on the fork, frame, motor, and battery
- The control pad near the left grip has a Micro-USB port built into the base, so you could maintain a smartphone, Garmin, or headlight from the main ebike battery while riding
- The LCD is larger than average, making it easy to read, and shows 10-bars for the battery level which is much more precise than a lot of competitors which only show 5-bars, there is also a dynamic range estimate menu (called DST, distance) for each level of assist
- The battery charger is quite big and heavy, it’s actually one of the largest mainstream ebike chargers that I k now of… and the plug tip is a tiny plastic circle that seems delicate and is positioned in the way of the left crank arm, there’s definitely room for improvement with this design
- The Yamaha PW motor offers good power and is quite responsive, but it doesn’t listen for shifting and could introduce mashing and drivetrain wear if you aren’t thoughtful about easing back on the pedals when changing gears
- Minor consideration here, the PW motor from Yamaha only offers up to 100 pedal strokes per minute drive support, if you pedal faster than that, the motor really fades out and you have to shift to a higher gear and pedal slower to get assist again, this is less than the PW SE and PW-X motor which offer 110 and 120 RPM respectively, for someone who likes to spin fast, this is a trade-off worth considering
- Minor consideration, the tires provide good tread that will be efficient on paved surfaces but also handle light trail (packed dirt or gravel), it would be nice if they had reflective sidewall stripes to keep you more visible at night and it would be cool if you could add integrated lights to the bike easily (some shops may be able to help you do that, wire them into the main battery)
- I cannot say for sure, but it appears there is no slap guard on the RebelCross Lite PW, I’d probably get a clear sticker like this just to keep the paint from getting nicked up over time when riding off-road and having the chain bounce, that pack comes with some circle stickers to keep the cables from rubbing on the head tube as you steer as well
- The stock grips are pretty basic, they are comfortable ergonomic designs but don’t have lockers on the ends and could spin if you really bear down, consider upgrading to something like this if you want a more secure handhold